In addition to doing quality work, a hot topic on any work site is finding clever uses of site logistics. The condition and size of a work site can vary considerably, often making the choice of equipment difficult. However, there are grout and mortar pump combinations that will provide the most common-sense solution to each of these work site variables.
These pumps can deliver fresh material from the point of mixing to the point of application over a distance of more than 200 feet and a height of 100 feet. Every system has pros and cons but they can all work as stand-alone systems so that the job can be done independently from other contractors without any wait time. In contrast to the use of hoppers, pumps also do not require cranes at the site, thus the danger of lifting materials can be avoided.
The following is a brief overview of the different types of grout and mortar pumps available, as well as the pros and cons of each.
Pumps with Batch Mixers
When using pumps with batch mixers, the wet mortar can be prepared from a site-mix or from a pre-blended dry mortar. This system has the advantage of being able to use a cheap site-mix while still speeding up the work. On the other hand, the disadvantage of this installation is that a hot-carrier is still necessary to control the mixing time and dump the wet material into the pump. Also, the right mixing proportions of every batch have to be controlled and adjusted to the working consistency.
Pumps with Continuous Mixers
In the case of pumps with continuous mixers, the wet mortar can only be obtained from a pre-blended dry mix, as this type of unit must add the water to the product. The advantage of this system is that you only need a small hopper at the pump as material is continuously feeding from the mixer. Furthermore, it is common to automate this system so the mixer starts and stops depending on the level of mortar in the pump. Due to the construction of the mixer, with one adjustment the water/mortar ratio will stay constant throughout the working day.
Mixing pumps are a combination of a pump and a continuous mixer in one compact machine, giving masons all the benefits of both systems. This allows a faster setup and less wiring at the work site.
These machines are easy to operate: just connect water and supply power, fill with dry material, adjust the water once a day, and push the button whenever you need the material. The result will be a proper mixed mortar or grout with a stable consistency delivered fresh at your point of application, and only one additional helper is needed to feed the machine with dry material. By the use of a spraying gun or a remote control, the mason can even start and stop the machine by him or herself at the point of application.
Like the mixing pump, the setup time for a trailer-mounted pump is very short as everything is ready to work once you've connected the water (many trailers have their own power generator).
The advantages depend on the combination mixer type and pump. The fast setup time makes them very interesting for contractors with smaller work sites. The disadvantage is the limitation of setup to outside the building or inside the first floor in general, trailer-mounted pumps cannot be moved inside the building.
For larger sites that take more time, a mixing pump might be a better bet as it can be stored more easily in the evening.
Pumps and Ready-to-use Mortar
These pumps must have a bigger hopper than continuous-mix pumps as the material must be filled in larger amounts from a truck. The advantage is that you can work with a consistent material and the output can be higher. On the other hand, the contractor depends on delivery of fresh material to the site and, in case of work stoppage, the wait time of a ready-mix-truck can become expensive.
Mixing Pumps with Silo Systems
In case the dry mortar is delivered in a silo system to the site these systems become even more economic and environmentally friendly. These are closed systems in regards to dry materials; therefore, no dust contamination will occur and there are no paper bags on site.
By attaching the mixer or mixing-pump to the silo it is possible to use higher output equipment as the material is flowing on its own from the silo into the machine and manual lifting and opening of bags is avoided. Only one worker is needed to operate the full system and no one is needed for feeding or transportation.
The use of the right combination of material, pump and mixer helps to save time and labor and makes construction faster and more reliable. A contractor can finish a job with fewer people and use his or her crews to do more jobs in the same amount of time. Using a pump also gives the masons the ability to work independently and without the use of expensive cranes. Pumps help to deliver material fast, safely and in the right amount when and where it is needed.
Pumping Up the Job Site
According to Schwing dealer Mack Hanbury, vice president of sales at Cross Enterprises, Orlando, Fla., pumping grout makes a lot of sense for mason contractors on a time-equals-money basis.
"It's a very low investment; typically, for $18,000 you can own the pump, all the hose and accessories needed. If you needed to grout 10 yards of cell fill and you're on the second or third floor even on the ground floor if you didn't pump it you'd have to use anywhere from five to six workers to do it in a timely manner. You only have so long with the concrete on the truck, typically 90 minutes from batch time. You must have that concrete placed within the 90 minutes, including the transport time from when truck leaves the batch plant."
He adds, "It would typically take eight or nine workers about an hour and half, if not more, to wheelbarrow and bucket even 10 yards. If you use a crane and bucket on cell fill, it's very messy and you loose time cleaning up. With the concrete pump you can place 10 yards of cell fill in about 45 minutes. You're putting the hose directly in the cells so you know it will be fully filled. There is very little mess and three workers can do it in most applications."
Pumps like the Schwing P-88 are rated for 150 feet vertical lift, based on type of mix being used. Hanbury says, "I would recommend that people stay around 10 or 12 floors I've pumped up 16 floors, but that was very special circumstances. I would not try to sell a piece of equipment by telling people it could do that. You can run up to a three-inch hose with the P-88, but typically you use two-inch hose because it is easier to handle. There are some applications, especially in Florida we have a very good pump mix in Florida where people are using inch-and-a-half hose. You have to make sure you have a very good ready-mix company and you're not getting any larger rocks mixed in with the small pea rock that these pumps are made to handle."
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